I Know Why The Caged Bird Do Not Sing

image

I am a caged bird and I cannot sing

I try to imagine a whole lot around me and my vivid imagination does not help matters at all. I see my imagination as clearly as the next person sneezing beside me.

So I woke up today with the title of Maya Angelou’s book rolling through my lips, it was like I kept caressing it “I know why the caged bird sings”. Then I had caressed it up to a point where it started losing meaning for me until it meant something different, until it meant the exact opposite.

Maya talked about liberty and freedom and expression even in a caged environment but I could only think of silence and quiet and bottled expression in the midst of supposed freedom.

Do you ever imagine why victims of abuse rarely speak out or why a person who looks like she is enjoying life commits suicide or a rape victim insisting she is fine or a boy being bullied will deny the incidence of bullying.

I know why.

Most times its like I am trying to scream on the top of my voice about the hurts and pains and trauma I am going through but no one ever hears me. Why? I am quiet but somehow in the quiet its like I am expecting people to see that I am really not fine.

But trust me, it usually doesn’t start that way most times the victims have actually tried speaking, talking, expressing but the world shuts them down. Its like, “deal with it and be an adult!” Or “everyone’s got issues too” or ” stop being an attention seeker” or “shame on you! You are tainted”. And the million other things the society consciously or subconsciously screams at people that try to talk.

Depression in Africa is not funny because it is viewed as a western thing simply not applicable in Africa. They feel the people of the west have it too easy and that’s why they even have the time to be depressed. So no one will listen to you and you know it before you even try to speak so why bother?

We are caged by the society and traditions and people’s impressions so much that we cannot even voice out when we are about to breathe our last because they have choked us.

Somehow I think like Maya, I have found a voice in writing, I might not be singing yet but I think I have started whistling, I have stopped caring about what every other person would say in so far as I can survive yet another day.

So I know why the caged birds do not sing.

I am a caged bird and I cannot sing.

I cannot sing but I can whistle.

Onashile Peace (tolarnee)

Advertisements

Rape and the Law- I have been raped, what next?

image

I will try to make this less like an educational or formal discourse and more like a communicative and expressive piece.

Rape is simply having sex with one without the person’s consent whether a male or a female. Sexual activities ought to be consensual between the two individuals involved and yea children are not considered to be capable of giving consent so you can’t escape the wrath of the law by saying a kid gave consent.

Now rape looks so straightforward to define and to comprehend in a normal social parlance so you might wonder why first, the victims do not simply speak up about what has been done to them and second why most rape cases in the court do not end up in favor of the victim.

So I will start with the first. You really cannot blame victims for not speaking up because of the society we live in. Specifically I am talking from the perspective of the lady. Now there is a sort of shame and stigma that the society puts on rape victims, like they have been defiled and made unclean, especially in Africa. As if that stigma is not enough, most times when the lady speaks up they end up looking for ways to blame her. They talk about how she must have seduced the guy, how the clothes she wore were revealing or how she consented and is now playing the victim. The society is quick to blame the lady regardless of the emotional and psychological and even physical torture she must have suffered. So often times the victims prefer to just keep quiet and heal on their own and the rapist end up walking free.

Men also get raped. Yes they do and its not funnier or easier to deal with. Men hardly talk also because of the society and what people will say. Its almost shameful to them that they were overpowered whether by a man or a woman, there is a lot of ego issue involved so they end up keeping to themselves. Another thing is how difficult it is to prove that a man has been raped. I mean except some real force and fighting and struggle was involved, how do you prove anything. And how do you prove it was not consensual. Men get aroused and all very fast, so its easy to claim the man was very involved in the sex, all these things just makes men very silent on rape which ought not to be.

image

You know the part I hate the most? The part where some stupid persons actually blame a child for getting raped and say a five year old or nine year old girl seduced a grown ass man or woman!

The law however is a different ball game, it works on evidence and evidence in rape is sometimes almost impossible especially in situations where there was no struggle. I will explain further.

Now the ingredients for proving rape are basically first a lack of consent and then penetration. Lack of consent could mean threat, could mean force and some other things but the bottom line is that there was no consent. Penetration means the obvious, that the penis was actually inserted into the vagina. There might be other things to be considered but these are the basic and general ones.

Let’s just think normally for a moment, how do you get evidence that there was no consent when most often than not its just the two of you? Most times when people hear of rape they think only of someone taking you from the streets, tearing your clothes, leaving loads of marks on your skin and then bruising the vagina sore. Those ones are quite easy to prove most especially of its reported immediately, the appearance and all shows the obvious lack of consent and the bruises in the vagina can show penetration.

But really, not all rape situations are that clear cut, some are by known people, some are done with threat, some they do not ejaculate inside the vagina and they actually get the lady or man aroused. Some have no force whatsoever, no tearing of clothes and all. These are the cases that are difficult to prove but sometimes lawyers work their way around it or get really lucky for one evidence or the other to come up.

Rape is never easy to prove except in some circumstances that are usually not as common as people think.
My point here is that the work of some lawyers would have been made easier with help from victims. Rape is a traumatic incidence but if you are going to seek for justice, there are some things that need to be done fast and on time.

image

First is to report immediately and don’t wait to wash off before reporting, go the way you are,call for help the way you are because really your whole body is evidence, your clothes, semen on your body, everything counts. You do not know what might eventually nail the rapist so drop everything.

Second don’t try to even be modest about what happened or be shy, give every detail, paint the situation such that even a child can understand. It has happened and the pain will always be there so why not just get justice for your pain.

Third, after the part of talking to the authorities, talk to someone or people that can help you heal from the emotional and psychological trauma. Definitely, in getting to the authorities you would be taken to a doctor, they would most likely give you pills and all and treat you too but you know the pain is deeper than what the doctor can treat. Don’t bottle up the pain and anger, talk to people. There are organizations that help with these kind of things and will help you heal psychologically. The truth is what you bottle up now will affect you later so don’t keep it in.

Fourth, really and honestly, withdrawing from everyone might seem like the best option at the time but it doesn’t really help. In fact it never helps, more than ever at this period you need people. The more you withdraw, the more you give room for depression and constant replay of the incidence. You need to get past it and withdrawing would not help.

Finally and this is something that is not really compulsory but would help a whole lot and that is reaching out and helping other victims. Some others out there need help, they do not what to do, they are passing through what you passed through so why don’t you come out of your shell and bless someone else.

Then I believe so much in the help of God. I believe when things are beyond you and even before they are beyond you the best help you have is God because He knows all. So just try to pray and talk to him because he can help more than any human can and make you brand new.

Rape is never a funny or easy thing but we can get through it with patience and conscious efforts to heal.

Real Life Experiences of Domestic Abuse- Stories of Actual Victims

image

Writing about issues women face over time has exposed me to some real life situations that women and men alike tell me.

Most times I use these stories as general bedrock for the fictitious ones I write on these kinds of issues but then I decided that maybe once in a while I should actually refer to the stories themselves.

So this time around, I am not sharing imaginary stories but people’s real life experiences.
A particular one I heard today spurred me to write this at all, I was heartbroken and was questioning humanity in its entire existence. However, this is not even close to the first time I would be hearing something like this but I guess it hit me hard coming from someone close to me.

So a close friend of mine was telling her boyfriend about how she was maltreated by her ex-boyfriend. Her story though is not really what got to me. She was locked in by her ex for refusing to show him her phone in a house filled with other people.
My friend said it was like she was watching a movie scene when he started repeatedly slapping and beating her and in that full house she kept screaming and not a single person came to her aid. There was no way she could even defend herself as he held her tightly and yes like guys usually do he apologized and said he will never do it again.

Well you can imagine the anger of her boyfriend but strangely he had a different approach, he felt she could have done more to save herself but I had to come in to explain the difference in people( I think I will explain this another time) that basically she might not even have had the will power or emotional strength to defend herself not to talk of the fact that she was held immobile.

It was at this point he opened up about a painful experience suffered by his cousin. Basically his cousin had a boyfriend that was obsessed with her and she was no longer comfortable in the relationship so she called it off.

Well, the guy was having none of it so he came to her friend’s house where she was staying early in the morning with packs and I mean packs of blades. He held her down and kept opening one blade after the other and slicing her with it and kept repeating that if he could not have her no one else would. The lady almost bled to death before she was rushed to the hospital.
You know what hurt me most in this story and what hurt my friend’s boyfriend too was the fact that nothing was done to this devil in human flesh, the family decided to forgive him. I was almost in tears as I listened this morning to the heart breaking story.

Like I said earlier, this would not be the first time I will hear of things like this, I have heard of hot water being poured or a child being killed or the partner being caged, there are just so many crazy stories out there. What you most likely think can only be imaginations are the realities of some people.

Domestic violence is real! We should do all we can to curb it, punish offenders and rehabilitate victims!

*** Image Source http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/photo/abused-woman-pleading-stop-royalty-free-image/117151152

Single and Struggling- A poem to appreciate single mothers

image

SINGLE & STRUGGLING
As the yellow sun sets o’er the ocean
And deep darkness envelopes the earth
As the world is rocked to sleep by the night’s rhythm
She stays awake, and with the stars keep watch

She’s often terrified. She’s often paranoid.
Alone and lonely; chocked by the grip of terror
She watches helplessly as her exuberance slowly fades
Hurt and vulnerable, she curses her miserable fate

Perched precariously on the edge of the night
She wonders what new mischief the dawn brings
She rocks the cradle, and sings, and dozes, and wakes
A vicious cycle from which there’s no breaking

Always the last to bed; always the first to rise
The lives of wild, innocent little things rest on her shoulder
She cannot falter. She cannot break. She cannot rest
She cries in the rain, and sends her miseries to the clouds

Life is not fair. The world is a cruel, dark place
She’s an object of undeserved neglect – a Cinderella
Still, I marvel at her strength, and her pride
Her resilience, and instinct, her love, and affection

She’s a father, and a mother, and a doctor, and a cook
Roles she never wanted, duties life hadn’t prepared her for
Her hair suddenly greys, but I still see her beauty
Her skin quickly wrinkles, but I still see her radiance
                                                       ©Ademola Adeyoju & Onashile Peace {Tolarnee}

**So this was written by an awesome friend of mine, Ademola Adeyoju and I to appreciate the sacrifices of single mothers all over the world especially young widows.

BREAST IRONING: An endless harmful traditional practice in Africa

image

Yes! Breast Ironing! You read correctly.
I get that reaction almost every time I talk about it, most people have no idea what it is about and when it is eventually explained they simply cannot believe that it is real but every single thing about to write about is the grim reality of some girls in different parts of Africa and even in the world.

Breast ironing is a painful and harmful cultural or traditional practice where the breasts of young girls that are seen as growing too fast are ironed back in with the aid if substance like hot pestles and stones.

I think this is beginning to sound like an essay so let me paint it in a more relatable way.

Basically, in some parts of Africa particularly Cameroon, when it is realised that the breasts of a young girl, say within the ages of nine till thirteen, are growing fast or is getting bigger, it is ironed in.

The rationale behind this is that the earlier they start showing big breasts the earlier men get attracted to them to either sexually harass them or demand for their hands in marriage, they usually do this to ensure the girl stays longer in school without being pregnant or raped.

You might ask how in the world is this done? Well its not as unrealistic as you might think, the girl is held down by adults or tied to a bamboo bed, pestles or grinding stones are heated over hot coals and then used to massage the breasts of the girls and it is done from a period ranging between a week and a month. In some milder cases, the girls are made to wear a kind of metallic tube for a long time.

image

Eventually, the growth of the breasts are stunted and the mothers are happy. Yes, it is usually the mothers that do it, the fathers are usually unaware about the process.

The first time I got to know about breast ironing was when I was writing my final year project in the university on “Feminist Jurisprudence: The rights of women in traditional African societies” and I was filled with so much rage and pain, I simply could not imagine a child as young as nine going through the process of breast ironing, or any child at all.

Nothing irritates me as much as the rationale, I mean how could you possibly think that doing such barbaric act would stop men from raping or the girls from having sex, what is the business of a man that wants to rape with the breasts. In so far as there is a vagina somewhere, he simply does not care. Breast ironing would not stop the sexual urges of the girls either.

Contrary to the belief of some that I am sentimental about violence or harmful practices against women, I am actually very realistic and would report things as they are. In as much as I stated clearly that these painful acts are actually perpetrated by women the truth whether you believe it or not is that patriarchy has a lot to do with it. This is a system where the men are idolized so the women have to do anything to either gain their approval or protect themselves from the harmful ones. This post is not about patriarchy so I would not spend much time talking about that.

Why am I writing this post? Awareness. I said in one of my posts that sometimes we are too comfortable in our corners of the world that we fail to realize what others are going through, in fact in instances such as this we can’t even imagine it. We might not be able to do much but the least we can do is to try to spread the word till it gets to someone who can.

Breast ironing is not a figment of imagination, it is real and thousands of girls all over the world still go through this because of ignorance. At the end, these girls have stunted breast growth, highly abnormal unequal breasts, breast feeding issues and even breast cancer.

Be aware today! Take a little time to check these things out and realise that feminists are really not devils seeking to bring the world down but  sometimes they are really trying to revive the humanity in us blinded by customs and traditions.

image

Let me leave you with what motivates me concerning these issues sometimes. Take a little time to imagine the process of breast ironing and then imagine it being done to your daughter, sister or yourself, how would you feel?

Onashile Peace(tolarnee)

Finding Joy in the Midst of Your Mistakes

image

I have made a lotta sh*tty stupid mistakes
I look back and it hurts
Sometimes I try to think of the consequences
I am not even sure what they might be
Not sure that when they come visiting
I will be able to handle
In my moping and regrets I keep making more mistakes
They almost becoming habits
Then I realise
Ain’t nothing I can do about yesterday
Can’t keep anticipating consequences either
Why not even in the midst of mistakes
Live each moment without burdens
Psychological and emotional
Embrace the past
Deal with its fruits
When happiness comes, flow with it
The depression just let it be
Take one toe after the other
There is only so much I can do
Even if its just fulfilment for the moment
Its better than constant regrets
And the life of a walking dead
So live darling
Its not perfect yet
You don’t know it all
Live
Maybe
Just maybe,
This time I might take my own advice

Onashile Peace (tolarnee)

***So I woke up today thinking of the million and one things I have not done right with my life. In fact that happens often but then I had to keep reminding myself that there is nothing I can do about the past.

The truth is even though people say you can do much about your future, the best you can really do is plan, nothing is certain. So why let uncertainties and regrets prevent you from enjoying the moment?

Its so messed up to have regretful past, uncertain future and a worry-filled today. I know it’s easier said than done to just focus on making the best of the present without bothering about yesterday or tomorrow but you can try.

You can try like I am trying to do now, my writing right now is about making the best of the present so do same and try to find the joy in whatever you are doing and focus on it.

I hope y’all have a beautiful day filled with joy and less worry….much love😘😘

**Image source..https://www.instagram.com/blackandwhite_art/

A Forever Cycle of Expected Heartbreaks

image

The cycle of heartbreak is one you are used to
You know the beginning, the middle and end
At first
You lived for the beginning
The beautiful romance
Soul deep connections
And promising forevers
But now you can’t wait to get to the end
You know it’s getting there
When they get to that point
They always do
No one is different
So you wait patiently for them
And when they do
You seize it and never let it go
The heart break point
It’s over and its on to the next one
But he
He is touching the tendrils of the point
Yet not quite reaching there
Not giving enough for you to hold as his crime
He is playing a game you don’t understand
Leaving you guessing and elongating the expected heart break
Then you get angry
Gradually and steadily the anger grows
And finally the anger becomes your excuse
It becomes the abnormal point
Bingo! Its the end
The cycle would always find a way
To complete itself
Just because you want it to
You have grown used to the cycle
Love would never be enough
To break your hopeless romance
With a forever expectation of heartbreak
Always guarding the open doors of your broken heart

Onashile Peace (tolarnee)

Image source.. https://www.instagram.com/zonum12/